a person or thing that attracts.
Physics. a state or behavior toward which a dynamic system tends to evolve, represented as a point or orbit in the system's phase space.

Origin of attractor

First recorded in 1645–55 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for attractor

Historical Examples of attractor

  • Shall one of us get in the airlock, or shall we bring it in with an attractor?

    Skylark Three

    Edward Elmer Smith

  • "There, we can see what they're doing now," and DuQuesne anchored the vessel with an attractor.

    Skylark Three

    Edward Elmer Smith

  • As an attractor of Negative Thought he is a glittering success.

    Nuggets of the New Thought

    William Walker Atkinson,

  • As the Skylark leaped away, Seaton focussed an attractor upon the one who had apparently signaled the attack.

    Skylark Three

    Edward Elmer Smith

  • Rapidly, but with unerring precision, the two ships were brought into place and held together by the attractor.

    The Skylark of Space

    Edward Elmer Smith and Lee Hawkins Garby

attractor in Science



A set of states of a dynamic physical system toward which that system tends to evolve, regardless of the starting conditions of the system.♦ A point attractor is an attractor consisting of a single state. For example, a marble rolling in a smooth, rounded bowl will always come to rest at the lowest point, in the bottom center of the bowl; the final state of position and motionlessness is a point attractor.♦ A periodic attractor is an attractor consisting of a finite or infinite set of states, where the evolution of the system results in moving cyclically through each state. The ideal orbit of a planet around a star is a periodic attractor, as are periodic oscillations. A periodic attractor is also called a limit-cycle.♦ A strange attractor is an attractor for which the evolution through the set of possible physical states is nonperiodic (chaotic), resulting in an evolution through a set of states defining a fractal set. Most real physical systems (including the actual orbits of planets) involve strange attractors.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.